Metro Weekly

Trans woman sues American Airlines alleging employment discrimination

Monte Johnson says she was repeatedly misgendered by coworkers and harassed by managers

american airlines, trans, transgender, discrimination, lawsuit

American Airlines — Photo: Ross Sokolovski / Unsplash

A transgender woman has sued her former employer American Airlines alleging that superiors misgendered, harassed and targeted her, before firing her in 2018.

Monte Johnson worked as a customer service agent for the airline, and accuses American Airlines of wrongful termination, anti-trans discrimination, harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, NBC Los Angeles reports.

In her suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Johnson says she started working for American Airlines in 2012, and claims that while colleagues were aware of her gender identity, she was often referred to as “he” or “him” by coworkers and managers.

She claims that complaints about harassment fell on deaf ears, and that one employee repeatedly asked Johnson whether she had undergone gender confirmation surgery, despite Johnson telling them that their questioning was inappropriate.

Johnson alleges that, rather than help, American Airlines instead started targeting her, particularly in 2016 after she accidentally mixed up a passenger’s personal information.

Also ReadSix U.S. airlines will offer non-binary gender options for passengers

Despite rectifying the problem immediately, Johnson claims American Airlines manager Kimberly Bailey and another manager began to harass her, including micro-managing her, reprimanding her repeatedly, and targeting her with negative remarks. Johnson claims she was the only employee targeted in this manner by managers.

She claims that the more she complained about her treatment, the worse the situation became, accusing Bailey and others of being “extremely harassing” towards her.

After complaining internally and to her union, she was ultimately fired in August 2018, Johnson claims. She is seeking unspecified damages in her lawsuit.

American Airlines issued a statement saying it was “reviewing the allegations” in Johnson’s complaint.

“American has an unwavering commitment to its LGBTQ team members and we’re committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for everyone who works at our airline,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling finding that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ people from employment-based discrimination.

Weighing in on two cases in June of this year, the high court found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in employment, also applies to LGBTQ individuals who have been fired, or denied employment opportunities, or denied promotions because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read more:

Biden promises he will “flat-out change the law” to protect LGBTQ people

HRC launches final ad push to motivate pro-equality voters to the polls

Republicans claim Texas Democrat will “divert military money for transgender re-assignment surgeries”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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